The Heirloom Food Expo is 2/3 underway with one more day to go. The Valley Girls crew has been busy, busy, busy all week - cooking, boxing, packaging, labeling. And BOOM, Monday we were setting up our booth at the Expo, and yesterday we were open for our very first day of business, our maiden voyage into the land of sales.
Day 1 was exciting and chaotic, diving headlong into putting ourselves out there for all to see. What would people think? Would they understand our story, who we are and what we do? Would they like our products, our image, US? Would they see the blood, sweat and tears we'd invested into this venture, not to mention the capital investment that we hope one day to recoup? Dipping your toe into the retail market for the first time is a lot like a blind date. Those butterflies in your stomach, the hope and fear all muddled together, looking in the mirror for the umpteenth time to make sure you don't have spinach in your teeth. All of us felt it, the girls were nervous but fresh and pretty in their cotton, patterned aprons.
Our first day wasn't a bang out day for sales, but we told people our story. We invited them to try our samples of dried fruit. We talked about Sonoma Valley Teen Services and the Life Skills programs they've kept going and the new ones they're creating. We told the story of working with the "at risk" youth of the teen center where Valley Girls cooks. We relayed the history of the girls who partook of the programs of the teen center over the past few years who have gone on to become the girls of Valley Girls Foodstuffs, a program created to teach the ins and outs of starting a business from the ground up and to give the girls their very first job.
People got to meet Esther, 17, the oldest girl of 8 kids who lives in a 3 bedroom home with a her close-knit family, is a leadership honor student in her senior class, and a hard worker who has a passion for good food and the social issues that surround it. They met Julie, 17, the oldest of a family of 6 children who has a willingness to take on any task that is handed to her with a cheery smile, has a desire to work with herbs and nutrition, whose sweet-natured conversations with difficult customers hint at her adeptness with placating small children, and who has a creative eye and interest in photography. And people got to meet Maria, 19, a quiet young lady whose demeanor sometimes hides how quickly she catches on to details, who listens to what you tell her and executes it perfectly, and whose twin sister Yaz joins Valley Girls in between classes at college, the two of them working in perfect unison as they navigate the kitchen.
Our booth at the Expo has been well-received. People want to hear these sorts of success stories about teens who are going above and beyond most people's expectations. And the girls of Valley Girls Foodstuffs are definitely farther above and further beyond what most people can possibly imagine. Hard workers, they are committed to the vision of a business they are in the process of helping to create. They grasp the importance of what they are doing. They understand it requires making mistakes and learning from them. If you've found this website, we hope you spread the word and help them create a booming business that can employ even more kids who can learn these skills and become a part of something potentially really significant.